Q. I have been in a fantastic relationship with my boyfriend for three years. We never had any issues with trust — until recently. He (soberly) told me that he had kissed a co-worker the previous night while he was intoxicated at the bar. He was immediately regretful and embarrassed, and says he is not interested in this person at all. He told me that he got attention from her (on top of being hammered) and took advantage of a situation.
I then pressed with questions: Do you love me? Do you want me? Are you ready to commit to this? And as the questioning went on (and believe me, it went on for hours and hours), he mentally spiraled. He said he knows he loves me but is scared because he does not know why he would allow himself to do what he did in the first place. He said he needed time to think about the situation. One week later he comes back around saying the distance has been miserable, and he knows I am the love of his life. He claims that he’s all in and ready to commit to us, and wishes this never happened in the first place.
My question: He is a nurse and recently went to a different unit of the hospital — where he now works with this co-worker. I am not sure I can handle that. Do I tell him to move back to his old position? Do I simply appreciate that he told me in the first place? Or distrust the fact that he got scared and went MIA for a week? — Help
A. “He said he knows he loves me but is scared because he does not know why he would allow himself to do what he did in the first place.”
I thought he did it because he was “hammered.” Isn’t that the reason? I mean, it’s not a great reason, but it’s one that makes a lot of sense. Really, it sounds like you’ve conflated two issues here. The first is the co-worker kiss, which was a drunken mistake your boyfriend regretted almost immediately. The second is the state of the relationship and all of those massive questions you asked him about commitment.
But I’m not sure the kiss had anything to do with where you are in your partnership. Your boyfriend needed a week to figure that out. Once he returned, he made it clear that it was just a mistake — and one he’s learned from.
My advice is to separate that kiss from those big questions. (Really, the more relevant question is about how much he drinks, when, and with whom.) I’d also refrain from making rules about where he can work. If he’s telling you he can be professional with this woman without it affecting your relationship, please believe him. Limiting his experience won’t help build trust. That has to happen over time. — Meredith
Do you think the hours of interrogation on something he was already remorseful for contributed to the mental spiraling? PEREAGAIN
Seriously! Over one drunken kiss! The poor man. MAJORISSUES
The boyfriend was a fool to mention any of this to you and your reaction proves that. BZZNLIKE-CRAZYMAN
I’m not convinced it stopped at a kiss. I think he is sugarcoating it. VERUCASALT
We are currently looking for someone with your aggressive style of questioning. You interested? THEMUELLERTEAM
Meredith Goldstein is in her ninth year of writing Love Letters for The Boston Globe.